This post is part of an ongoing series in the study of John we are doing during January. Subscribe to the blog for daily updates in the Bible Study posts. Subscribe to the podcasts to hear our discussion of the book of John throughout this month. Join us in your daily devotions as we travel through this fascinating account of the life of Christ.
“If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. “I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:31-47 (NKJV)
We complete chapter 5 with the final words of Jesus to the religious leaders who questioned him in verse 18. Jesus knew it was not enough to claim equality and authorization from God. Anyone could make a bold claim, but scripture made it clear by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established (Deuteronomy 19:15). So Jesus provided the witnesses that testified who He was and the authority He carried in the earth.
- John the Baptist (v. 33-35)
- The works He did (v. 36)
- God Himself (v. 37-38)
- Scripture itself (v. 39)
- Moses (v. 46)
Would I Have Recognized Him
When I strip away my upbringing, my years of walking with Christ, and all the other elements that fostered a level of familiarity in me that so readily accepts that Christ was who He said He was – the Son of God – I wonder how I would have responded to Jesus if I were among the religious leaders of that time.
For a man to come, seemingly out of nowhere, and proclaim authorization and equality from God was no small matter. Frankly, when I read these passages objectively, I empathize with the religious leaders. If I came across a man who claimed equality with God, even if He did miracles, even if a prophet acknowledged him, even if he could point out scriptures testified about him – would I believe? Probably not, if I am being honest.
And yet Jesus expected these people to believe and even required them to believe. The failure of belief among the religious leaders that challenged Him demonstrated that they did not have the love of God in them.
But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.
Heart Knowing vs. Head Knowing
There is a clear implication. The presence of the love of God within us triggers our ability to recognize Christ. We may not be able to articulate what we see. We may not be able to explain it. But if the love of God is in us, we see Him for who He is.
When Jesus walked the earth, His disciples recognized Him. There was something inside them that sparked, and they altered their entire lives to follow Christ. They could not explain it. They did not have the academic background to interpret the words and ways of Christ at first. They started with what was sensed in their heart. The religious leaders did not have that spark. They began with what they knew, what they understood, and what they felt obligated to protect.
The message of Christ and our following Him does not begin with the head and the brain. It begins with the heart. When the love of God is in us, we see more than the wisest and most knowledgeable of men who are blinded to the truth. Human beings are not mental beings. We are spiritual beings. The walk and understanding of Christ always begin with that internal spark first.